Reconciliation [2009] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Grant Taylor (not the football coach) is a soon-to-be father who finds himself distracted and confused by wounds from his past.  Specifically, he feels scarred by the way his father treated him and is bitter at him for leaving his mother so he could become involved with another man.  Grant never forgave his father and allowed the unforgiveness to poison his marriage.  Thus, his wife encourages him to go see his dying father in the hospital when she receives a call about his condition.  Grant reluctantly goes and discovers that nothing is always as it seems.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Even though this is a somewhat underfunded amateur production, a lot of good effort was put into it to make it high quality.  Almost every production element in as professional as it should be—video quality, camera work, and audio quality included.  The soundtrack is also interesting and creative.  Sets, locations, and props are mostly good, with only some minute errors.  The same goes for the editing, as there are a few lagging parts.  However, overall, this is an excellent production, especially considering the limited resources.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

At least a part of this film really does mean well, but the good message is too easily derailed by the obvious and forceful way it’s presented.  Dialogue is too in-your-face, and there are too many character stereotypes and cringe-worthy caricatures, especially of the gay characters.  This seems to be a problem in Christian film.  Though there are plenty of good ideas and realistic circumstances here, it needs some major refining and toning down.  Subtly and ambivalence is the key here.  There are many interesting points raised here, especially through flashbacks, that are often packed incorrectly.  The characters definitely have potential, but they need more development.  In the end, this was a good idea that needed a lot longer look than it was given.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

This cast is semi-professional, and they are mostly fine in their performances, especially in their line delivery.  However, emotions tend to be all over the place—they are sometimes awkward and forced and other times too flat.  Yet overall, this is an average performance that makes this film basically average.

Conclusion

Many a film has started with a good idea and even good production like Reconciliation, yet it doesn’t have the necessary elements to close the deal.  This is fine as a first-time film, but it’s still frustrating to see movies like this rise up and fall back down, short of their potential.  Yet maybe this creative team will build off of this movie and make a better one in the future.  One never knows what is coming next in the Christian movie market.

 

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

 

What Would Jesus Do? (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When a down-on-his-luck pastor encounters a mysterious drifter who wants his help, the pastor is unsure of how he is to respond.  Mired in his own self-pity, the pastor lets the drifter pass on by.  As the drifter makes his way around the small California town searching for someone to help him, he only meets distrust and resistance.  The people of the town are all hurting and struggling in different ways, and it seems like the upstart mayoral candidate’s plans to bring a casino to town is the only hope.  But one day, the ‘few’ Christians that are ‘still faithful’ are forced to take a good look at the lives they are living when the drifter collapses in the middle of a worship service.  From there, the Christians must decide whether or not they are going to live their life by the slogan ‘What Would Jesus Do?’

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

All\KKO Productions were never much for investing money in films.  We completely understand that far too often, funding for Christian films is scarce and hard to come by, but if you’re going to make a movie, there’s no point in propping up a cut-rate production, because no enough people are going to watch and enjoy it, unless other elements, such as the plot, are very profound.  WWJD falls in line with many low quality Christian productions before and after it, sporting the typical symptoms of the same old malaise: poor video quality, cheap camera work, inconsistent sound quality, and the like.  The sets are very sloppy and the surroundings are glaringly low budget.  The soundtrack is one part Hallmark and another part indie worship band.  Finally, we have to question whether or not the editing department knew what they were doing with this film, as the plot zings all over the place, trying to land on and amplify in-your-face Christian elements.  In short, this production barely keeps its head above the water of zero points, but not by much.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

With seemingly good motives, WWJD is actually the most disjointed plot we have ever seen.  Sporting an infinite cast of shallow caricatures with laughable dialogue, this vastly meandering storyline is enough to make your head spin.  From a bumbling-borderline-creepy drifter to a depressed burned-out pastor to an awkward amateur ‘musician’ to a generic realtor to a scrupulous newspaper editor to a cartoonish political villain…the list of characters goes on and on and on.  There are numerous other peripheral characters, but you get the point.  Each character is complete with bizarre one-liners there are intended to be serious but instead come off as comical.  Strawman issues facing modern Christians (churches shutting down, casinos being built in suburban areas, evil realtors buying up low income housing, spreading rumors in the media) are presented and quickly fixed as the characters diverge to either become perfect slogan-spouting Christians or hopelessly wicked power-hungry snakes.  Everyone is either transformed into a do-gooder when a drifter collapses in the middle of a church service or is condemned to live a life of forever evil.  What’s more, this ‘plot’ limps along on childishly unrealistic elements, such as a church taking care of a sick man rather than a hospital.  By the end, this film will be trying to sell you cheap WWJD gear that makes you a better Christian (not kidding).  In short, the intent of this movie is beyond our comprehension; all we know is that it’s a mockery of Christian film—again.

Acting Quality (0 points)

This cast is essentially John Schneider and a whole host of amateurs, all of which are provided zero acting coaching.  Line delivery is awkward and emotions are either nonexistent or forced.  Positivity is overplayed; sometimes people are very over-excited to the point of embarrassment.  Lines that are meant to be serious come off all wrong and appear comedic.  Basically, if you watched Decision and Lukewarm, you get the picture of what the acting is like.

Conclusion

What else can be said that hasn’t already been said?  Between Decision, Lukewarm, and the WWJD trilogy, All\KKO Productions has really done a number on the reputation of Christian movies.  The real question is this: the message of asking what Jesus would do in every circumstance that faces us as Christians is highly important, but who is going to watch this movie to learn that?  Even if someone did watch this movie, they are highly unlikely to either be converted to Christianity or to be inspired in their faith.  Since neither of these objectives is accomplished, what’s the point of making a half-cocked, cheap, and downright embarrassing production?  We implore future film makers to take notice.  Make a difference in Christian film, not another thrift store reject.

 

Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points